How Many Babies In Florida Have To Be Infected With Zika Before Florida Republicans Get Off Their Asses?
The Republicans have an absolute majority in the House and control every aspect of legislation there. The Speaker is Paul Ryan. The House Majority Leader is Kevin McCarthy. A Republican chairs every single committee and Ryan's office sets the agenda for what gets discussed and what doesn't. That said, April 15 was the legal deadline to approve the annual budget and it's now a month past that and there is still no budget-- and it isn't because of objections from Democrats. Ryan can't control his own fractious cannabalistic party, where the extremists-- who are eager to shut down the government-- have veto power. Last month, Ryan told the media, "We're still having conversation with our members, and we do want to pass a budget resolution." So far, he's accomplished nothing at all but to make John Boehner look like a brilliant legislative strategist.
Combatting the Zika virus before it's an existential emergency wouldn't be a bad idea. President Obama asked for congressional cooperation 3 months ago. But instead of cooperation, what's he got is more deranged right-wing intransigence and their crazy, dangerous anomie. The sociopaths at the Heritage Foundation are threatening to finance primaries against Republicans who move to help Obama protect the country from a grave health problem unless the money to fight the virus comes from programs already funded that they don't like (like Medicare). When is enough enough from these crackpots?
Ryan has been sitting around fighting with Trump, positioning himself for a 2020 presidential run and unable to move any serious policy off the dime. He's been afraid to agree to a strategy that would allow the House to vote on a Senate bill, where sane Republicans could vote along with Democrats to pass emergency funding because that's what led to Boehner's forced retirement. Yesterday Andrew Taylor reported for the Associated Press that Obama's proposal to create a vaccine and to control mosquitos that spread the virus-- both here and abroad-- (price tag: $1.9 billion) will result in a Senate bill granting $1.1 billion and a House bill granting $622 million, which will then go to a conference committee. The White House has agreed to take $600 million out of the Ebola fighting budget to use in the anti-zika efforts.
Obama made his $1.9 billion request almost three months ago. Republicans say he has padded the request, for instance with a $246 million request for Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico. Democrats complain of GOP foot-dragging.Meanwhile there are over 100 confirmed cases of pregnant women in the U.S. with Zika already! The Aedes mosquitoes that spread the virus are all over the country but risk is greatest "based on things like temperature, precipitation, and population, as well as things like proximity to airports (with high numbers of travelers entering the country from other Zika zones), as well as cities' socioeconomic standing (higher poverty rates generally lead to higher exposure to mosquitoes, due to factors like a lower overall likelihood that people are using air conditioning, have windows with effective screens, and potentially also greater difficulty accessing clean water)." The most at risk populations are in 5 states-- Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana-- states that have overwhelmingly larger numbers of Republicans, far right ones at that, than Democrats representing them in the House. Five Florida cities with the greatest risk include Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee, cities represented by obstructionist Republicans like John Mica, Daniel Webster, Ander Crenshaw, Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis, Dennis Ross, Gus Bilirakis, David Jolly, Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart. How many Floridian babies have to be born with tiny heads before these 11 Republicans decide maybe obstructionism isn't want their constituents sent them to Congress to work on.
Republicans have slated action for this week, starting Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has scripted three votes, with Obama’s request and a GOP alternative likely to fall short of the 60 votes required to turn back a filibuster. A $1.1 billion bipartisan alternative, however, is expected to advance despite grumbling by Democrats who think it’s not enough and conservative Republicans who believe it should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The Zika funds would be attached to a separate spending bill for the departments of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development that McConnell hopes can be finalized for Obama’s signature before Congress goes on vacation in mid-July.
The House, meanwhile, promises action later this week on a $622 million stand-alone Zika measure that would be offset by cutting other spending, including leftover Ebola funding. The outlines of a final compromise are unclear.
UPDATE: Ryan-- Still Playing Partisan Games With Babies' Lives
House Republican asshats decided to play a little more with the seriousness of the Zika outbreak. Let's hope everyone of them has a family member who catches the disease. No, that's too cruel. Let's hope they all get defeated at the polls instead. They re-named an anti-Environmental Protection Agency Bill, the Zika Vector Control Act, without changing a word in the bill that would help with Aedes mosquito eradication. Pelosi: "In a brazenly political act, the Republican leadership is trying to mask gutting the Clean Water Act as having something to do with fighting Zika. This bill has nothing to do with Zika and everything to do with Republicans’ relentless special interest attacks on the Clean Water Act. It will do nothing to stem the growing threat of the Zika virus."
Pelosi perhaps didn't notice that 23 Democrats blithely skipped across the aisle and voted with the GOP on this-- and now Ryan is calling it a "bipartisan effort"-- knowing there is no price to pay in terms of DCCC or House Majority PAC funding. The 23 House Dems who played on Ryan's team today were mostly the same wretched crew of New Dems and Blue Dogs like...
• Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)In the Senate, where they are taking Zika more seriously than the goof-balls in the House, a far right filibuster was overcome, 68-29. Among the culprits were Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), each of whom will have to face the voters in November.
• Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
• Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
• Lois Capps (New Dem-CA)
• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
• Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
• Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
• Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)
• Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
• David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX)